No. 8 Boston College probably wishes it had a few more games before winter break. After completing their most lopsided sweep of No. 2/3 Boston University in 23 years, the Eagles finished the first semester on a three-game winning streak during which they outscored their opponents 20-7.
They trounced the Terriers 5-2 at Conte Forum on Saturday after cruising to a 9-5 victory at Agganis Arena on Friday. Last Sunday, they beat Vermont 6-0, and the weekend before that, they outscored No. 9 Maine 8-1 in a weekend sweep — their most one-sided sweep of the Black Bears since 2001. A 5-3 loss to No. 18 Merrimack between the Maine and Vermont games stands as the only blemish on BC’s record of late.
After starting the season with a pedestrian 6-4-0 record and losing their No. 1 ranking, the defending national champions decided something needed to change.
“I think a huge part of that is our attitude,” said forward Chris Kreider. “Everyone’s so positive on the bench and in the locker room. I guess because expectations were so high and because everyone has such a competitive edge on our team, we all wanted to really do as well as we could.
“At times, we might’ve been even cheating the game a little bit, as our coaches say. We wouldn’t be finishing our hits or maybe playing a little too soft, playing kind of shinny hockey instead of playing hard and playing like men.”
So the team held a meeting before the Maine series to talk things over.
“We sat there and we talked about it and we kind of listed our goals and what we wanted to accomplish game in and game out,” Kreider said. “Basically, we came to the conclusion that we needed a better attitude in the locker room and on the bench. We needed guys to pick other guys up, and I think that’s really starting to happen. We’ve got a lot of leaders other than our captains stepping to the forefront.”
Kreider was one of BC’s biggest contributors in this weekend’s pair of wins against BU. After registering a goal and two assists Friday night, he netted a shorthanded goal midway through the second period Saturday night when he forced a turnover at the blue line, took off on a breakaway and snapped a shot through BU goalie Kieran Millan’s five-hole to make it 4-2 BC.
Steven Whitney put the nail in the coffin with 8:54 left in the game. He came off the bench just as a BC penalty was expiring and ended up on a breakaway of his own that ended with his second goal of the night. The Eagles also got goals from Joe Whitney and Cam Atkinson, the latter of whom tallied three on the weekend to give him a Hockey East-leading 14 for the season.
“I thought our first two periods were outstanding,” said BC coach Jerry York. “We really had some jump. We were on top of our game the first two periods. … Third period, BU kind of turned the game in their favor. I thought they were controlling the play. And then we got a huge shorthanded goal from Steven Whitney, which was in effect the turning point in the game. … If they score to make it 4-3, that’s a hard finish here.”
For the Terriers, the embarrassing sweep at the hands of their archrival puts an exclamation point on a 1-3-4 stretch over the last month after storming out of the gates to a 6-0-1 start that landed them atop the national polls.
“We were outclassed by a team that’s playing at the top of its game,” said BU coach Jack Parker. “We were so back on our heels. Last night, we were back on our heels the whole night. Tonight, we were back on our heels at different times during the course of the game. We were, ‘Oh boy, we’re afraid of them.’ We were cringing.”
Luckily for the Terriers, these were not their last games before break. They’ll have two chances to rinse the bad taste out of their mouths when they host Northeastern on Wednesday before traveling to No. 15/16 Rensselaer on Saturday.